Tag Archives: cold weather

How to Exercise in Cold Weather

By: Dawn Roelofs, CRNP

There’s no reason to stop exercising outdoors when the temperature drops. In fact, exercise in cold weather has some advantages over warmer weather:

  • There’s no heat and humidity to deal with.
  • You may be able to work out longer.
  • Winter sunlight can improve your mood and help your body make vitamin D.
  • Exercise boosts your immunity during cold and flu season.

Just follow these tips for cold-weather workouts to maintain your fitness regimen this winter.

 1. Acclimate. Understand that it will take time for you to get used to working out in the cold. When you first start exercising, your body will probably need more time to warm up to perform well. Make your workouts a little lighter at first to help your body adjust.

2. Hydrate. You still sweat in cold weather, so stay hydrated. Drink water frequently even if you don’t feel very thirsty

3. Go for layers. Dressing in layers helps you manage the combination of cold air, body heat and sweat. For your first layer, choose a moisture-wicking fabric that pulls sweat away from your skin and keeps you dry. Next, add a layer of fleece, and on top put a thin waterproof garment. If you start to perspire, you can remove a layer. Avoid cotton garments. Once cotton becomes wet with sweat or snow, the moisture is trapped and will make you feel colder. Protect your hands with a thin pair of glove liners made of a wicking material under a pair of heavier gloves. Consider wearing thermal socks to keep your feet warm, and a hat or headband to protect your head and ears, or even a scarf to protect your face.

4. Know the risks. Being cold can lead to hypothermia and frostbite. Hypothermia means your body temperature has fallen below safe levels, and it can kill you. Symptoms include lack of coordination, mental confusion, slowed reactions, slurred speech, cold feet and hands, shivering and sleepiness.

Frostbite happens when cold freezes your skin. Frostbite is most common on exposed skin, such as your cheeks, nose and ears. Early warning signs include numbness, loss of feeling or a stinging sensation.

If you experience any symptoms of hypothermia or frostbite, get out of the cold immediately and get medical help.

Don’t forget the sunscreen as the winter sun can burn you, especially when it reflects off ice or snow.

5. Be realistic, stay safe. There’s a point when uncomfortable weather becomes unsafe. Check the weather before your workout. If the wind chill is extreme, the temperature is well below zero or there’s ice on the ground, it may be safer to work out indoors.


Dawn Roelofs, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioner, received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, and her Master of Science in Nursing degree from Drexel University. She cares for patients in MPCP’s Columbia office.

Surprising Health Benefits of Cold Weather

By: John A. Billon, M.D.

Although cold weather is often associated with health problems such as cold and flu, you may be surprised to learn that the cold has some health benefits, too. Read on to learn how lower temperatures can be good for you.

Fewer allergies: Plants don’t make pollen in the winter, so we allergy sufferers generally feel better in cold weather.

Less bug-borne disease: Pesky insects like mosquitoes and ticks are in short supply in cold weather, greatly reducing our risk of catching the nasty diseases they may carry, such as West Nile virus, Lyme disease and Zika virus.

Reduced inflammation: Similar to putting ice on an injury, cold weather can reduce inflammation and pain. One study found that runners exposed to cold temperatures recovered faster from workouts. This suggests that exercising in winter may result in less inflammation and soreness than in the summer.

Improved brain function: There’s evidence suggesting our brains work better at cooler temperatures. One study found that 62 degrees was the best for schoolchildren to learn, and other research found that people study better when the weather is cold.

Increased fat burn: Besides your body using more calories to stay warm, research suggests being cold can increase your ability to burn fat. It may trigger “brown fat” in the body, a good fat that can burn off other “white” fat. Also, exercising in cold weather boosts your body’s energy expenditure for hours afterwards, so you end up burning more calories.

Better emotional health: We’re less likely to be out and about in cold weather, causing us to spend more time with family and friends. Social interactions like these have been shown to reduce stress, making us more relaxed and happier. Also, if you experience seasonal depression – known as the “winter blues” ─ your doctor may recommend a vitamin D supplement to boost your mood and keep your emotions on an even keel.

Dr. Billon received his medical degree from Jefferson Medical School, completed his residency program in Family Practice at Stamford St. Peters University Hospital and Robert Wood Johnson, and is certified by the American Board of Family Practice. He practices at MPCP’s Arnold office.